For his second CD, Josh Charles showcases his talents as a songwriter in the contemporary blues tradition with a sleek program recorded in a New Orleans studio that oozes cool more than shouts it. Playing acoustic or electric keyboards with organist John Roggie, a spare backup band, two guitarists in Mike Ciro and Steve Jablas, occasionally three horns and three female singers, Charles and co-songwriter Ric Steel offer mostly mellowed-down music in soulful, brown-eyed tones closer to a common-denominator-styled Harry Connick, Jr. with a distinct Crescent City non-jazz flavor. While many of these tunes offer the same approach and slowed tempo, especially as the recording goes on, Charles does offer some variation early on, like a soft, funky, pop, non-reggae version of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come." Then there's an energetic original "The Waiting Game" with horns and backup vocals, a Steve Wonder-flavored title track lightly spiced up with Wurlitzer organ, the distinct gospel blues "I'm Always Here for You," and the most upbeat cut, "Pickin' Up the Pieces" where Dr. John's gumbo-infused piano style with the horns comes through more than the other selections. There's pleasant music here, nothing to shake things thing, but also not tame by any means. Josh Charles is a work in progress, and it will be interesting to see if he goes the more commercial route as he's capable of, or digs down further into the roots of the blues.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos